Jose Mourinho has hit back at Pepe and Andres Iniesta for comments on Iker Casillas and suggested that Diego Lopez will always be his No 1 at Real Madrid.
The past few days have seen both Pepe and Iniesta comment on Casillas’ struggles to get into the Madrid starting line-up over a reputed falling out with Mourinho, with the Madrid defender calling for the goalkeeper to be shown more respect and the Barcelona man labelling the issue as ‘strange’.
“Iniesta is free to say what he thinks and what he wants, but I think he should worry more about his club and his teammates, and when his team do not have Messi how different they are, as has been shown in the Champions League semi-finals. I think it is easy to analyse,” began Mourinho with his first response at today’s Press conference.
“Casillas? I have no problem with him. I like Diego Lopez more. And I have that right. Just as if Iker likes Pellegrini more than me. While I’m Real Madrid Coach, Diego Lopez will always play.
“Once and for all, let’s see if you can understand. I am a football Coach. I was hired to coach football and a football Coach has the power, among other things, to choose who plays.
“I do not flip a coin and if it lands on one side I pick Coentrao and on the other I pick Marcelo. I spend many hours discussing and analysing my decisions. I try to decide according to what is in my head.
“For me, I like Diego Lopez as a goalkeeper more so than Iker Casillas. I am not harming anyone. I like him better.
“He works well with the centre-backs, plays well with his feet, dominates in the air. Iker makes amazing stops between the sticks. I like other goalkeepers more. It is like Casillas can say that he likes Del Bosque or Pellegrini more so than me.
“Or maybe a Coach that is more manageable, more defensive, or more offensive. It is legitimate that I choose Diego Lopez to play in normal conditions.
“After that, people can say what they want, that Mourinho knows nothing about football, that Casillas is better than Diego Lopez 20 times. But respect that the Coach says he will play Diego Lopez, Albiol, Varane, Nacho and Coentrao, and I have given you the defence for tomorrow [against Malaga].
“The pairing of Varane and Ramos is the future of Madrid, Albiol plays because he deserves to. I’m playing Fabio because I have no choice. And Diego because for me he is the best. It is simple.
“I accept that it can be said that Casillas is better, but you have to accept who I choose because I’m the Coach of Madrid.”
Mourinho was asked about Pepe’s words at the weekend that called him out for criticising Casillas.
“Pepe’s problem has a name - Raphael Varane. I only speak about Pepe because you have asked me about him. I was not going to talk about Pepe.
“Any normal person in this room will know that we are talking about frustration. It is not easy for a man of 31, with status and a past, being replaced by a 19-year-old boy. But it is the law of life.
“Who has had the courage to select the boy? Me. Pepe’s life has changed, at a sporting level. Furthermore, it is a decision of mine, few of which are made in public.
“I have no problem with him, I understand that it is not an easy situation but I have to try and be honest and I think that only few people will think that the future of Madrid in defence is Varane and Sergio Ramos.”
Mourinho was talking ahead of Madrid’s midweek home clash with Malaga. Los Blancos are unbeaten at home this season.
“None of the big teams in Europe have managed this. If they have not lost at least in the Champions League then they have in the Cup. The biggest - Juventus, Inter, Milan, Napoli, Barcelona, Bayern… Everyone has lost a home game.
“All that remain are two for us. Is there a title? No. Is it something that makes me happy? No. But it is worth not trying to lose. For the team it would be a good start with this trust at home.
“But Malaga are dangerous and can win here. If we do not play well then the game will be hard.”